Christmas Frances-ism: "Christmas is so close I can taste it!"
Me: "What does it taste like? Candy canes? Turkey stuffing?"
F: "It tastes like...my breath."
Wrapping gifts: "It's the thought that counts. AND the present."
Ten seconds later, wrinkling the tape: "It's not the outside that matters; it's what's on the inside."
re: announcer on NPR: "I didn't know this channel used robots!"
"I don't want the rest of this watermelon. It tastes like Dentist's Office."
***For the Frances-ism Archives, scroll down
photo by Jennifer May 2008
Three Rivers Rising
Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania 1888-1889
Three Rivers Rising includes a forbidden cross-class romance between a guest and a hired boy at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, site of the dam that burst in 1889, flooding the valley below. The main characters are in the city of Johnstown when the wave hits and piles debris at the stone bridge, damming up the water once again. The city of Johnstown is under water and the debris at the bridge is on fire. Each thinks the other is dead. Will they find each other? Survive? Endure being disowned by their families? (Alfred A. Knopf, April 2010)
Winner of the PEN New England Children's Book Caucus 2008 Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award
F: "This steak is good."
Me: "Is steak your Number Three Favorite Chicken?"
F: "Steak is moving to the top of the list."
Telling her teachers about the gerbil losing its tail:
"They were very questionative!"
From the vault: Frances, age 3:
"I can't stop crying...my tears are beating me up!"
Eyeing a model sailboat:
"That's like the Titanic for a Barbie doll!"
"I'm going to be a vegetarian...except bacon. And chicken nuggets."
(And they're not even her #1 Favorite Chicken! Her #1 Favorite Chicken is pork!)
"I like my carrots tartare."
Drawing an elf with a sawtooth skirt:
"I made it all rippity!"
Trying to decide what to eat, nothing looks good enough:
"I don't want to disappoint my hunger!"
"My ankle is spranged!"
Frances-isms Past: Part XIII
And you thought your day was bad?
She forgot her Spelling book,
ripped her leggings on wood chips,
was told some kid didn't care about her,
and "the Teacher Helper smelled like GLUE!!!!!!"
Chopping potatoes for Thanksgiving party at school:
"These are the naturest smelling!"
haunted ice-cream truck
Not loving the dark:
"I could see something moving in my closet! There were penguin skeletons! And they were wearing my dresses!"
Sam sits next to her in school:
"You and Sam are a lot alike. You're both very talkable...and you both love WWII..."
Too soon for footie pajamas:
"I need something more unhotter!"
Frances-isms Past: Part XII
Instructing me on how to be a Cool Mom:
"Don't say 'toot.' That's too rich-y, like a rich-y guy would say. A diggy-dog-word guy wouldn't say 'toot.'"
"It's just soggy bread, flavored."
MadLibs getting out of control: Adjectives:
"jellyish" and "boogery"
Me: "Your skin is smooth like caramel."
F: "Smooth like caramel?
like cookie dough
"I have a confess to make..."
"My nails are so flabby!"
Homework is now a part of life:
"It's too hard! There's no one to help me or even hold my feet!"
Even More Frances-isms
re: Yoder's Family Restaurant, home of world-famous pie:
"That's where I discovered my One True Love!" (clasping hands beside cheek)
Mom: "Which was what?"
"A rhombus is a rectangle in a hurry."
Hair wrap colors chosen thoughtfully:
F: "Green is for grass,
blue is for sky,
and pink is for muzzle."
F: "Like a muzzle on a horse...or a hamster..."
Me: I love you.
F: I really really want a horse.
F: Officer Dipper (crime-fighting dolphin) and her Trusty Steed, Pinky-Rinky-Dink
G: Officer Cuddles (crime-fighting polar bear)
F: Pink Ninja (super hero name)
"You can call me Peeps Jinxster!"
At the suggestion that she could be brave and remove the spider from the shower herself:
"But I'm the shy lamb of the family!"
Her father misreading my horrible handwriting:
"Who said, 'I'm the SkyLab of the family'?"
Middle of the night: "Has anyone ever died of hotness?"
A little song in the laundry room:
"Mommy, tie me a panty ho,
tie me a panty ho,
a panty ho nanty, nanty, nanty..."
Doing an impression of Bob Dylan as a kid:
"I'm Little Bobbie Zimmerman, and I spilled my chocolate milk!!!!!"
Trying to sing Yankee Doodle Dandy: "I can't remember the remedy."
You know the Frances-ism train is rolling to a stop soon when she says something wonderful, and I look at her a certain way, and she says, "That's a Frances-ism, isn't it?"
G: "Why are you wearing an undershirt under your dress?"
F: touching the spangles, "It's all frickled."
"Twister on Tuesday is the schoolishest of the Jack and Annie books."
Playing pretend with the lambie twins, making Trixie say to Bixie:
"Don't make me give you the hoofs!"
Guest post: Grace:
"You're the whole reason Febreze was invented!"
To the tune of Release Day, The Musical:
with a baseball bag over her shoulder:
"Release Day, Release Day,
I'm going to France to sell my book!
Release Day, Release Day,
I've got this bat
in case anyone tries to hit me with a book!
Release Day, Release Day,
I'm going to France to sell my book!
Even though they can't read it
because it's in English!"
"That cake looks gobble-y."
re: Zhu-Zhu pets:
"Chunk is runnified."
"I'm so hungry, I could eat myself alive...right down to my foot, right down to my big toe."
"I'm going to the beach"---lifts shirt to reveal dress-up wig---"to show off my chest hair!"
Wrapping a towel around her head in front of the mirror:
"I wanna see the Nun Me! Nunny, nunny, nunny!"
Guest post: Willie, age 3
Guilting his father into giving up soda,
"Whadaya gonna drink that PEPSI all day!"
Frances-isms Past: Part I
Maple peanut butter
putting a face, pony tail, skirt and heels on the number three because "three is a popular number" and she has to get ready for her date with four!
Have you noticed lately how curvy three is and how angular and masculine four is...?
"What if I fell in a grave and broke a scully head?"
Imitating her father talking to my father:
"Let's go see Avatar, Jim!...Let's go get some meatloaf in Canada, Jim!"
"She's always sillying around when we play fairies,
and I'm never sillying around when I play god!"
(playing god/s = playing Percy Jackson)
Grace on chewing tobacco:
"That's dangerous gum!"
Dad: What does it feel like when I hold you?
F: Like I'm being swarmed by angels.
Challenging The Beat Box Guy, Andrew Gutterson, to a throwdown:
"Maybe when he comes, his mom and you could chat while we play."
Realizing there are babies in Haiti:
"Maybe we could send one of those babies something, then when it grows up, I could hug it."
Grace feels that Frances takes her for granted.
Frances whispers to me, "Maybe we could buy her something...like a toy."
I say, "Are you trying to buy someone's love?"
She looks at me, "Before I answer, is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
Frances-isms Past: Part II
Wants company in a dark room:
"You and Daddy are like the Safe-inators."
To her father:
"You could be the winner of a Cute Pageant...
for bald people."
"I hate having fat busy days!...
I wanna wrestle them down,
and smoosh them!"
Me: I hope you never outgrow hugging and cuddling.
FM: I'll even hug your grave!
"You know what Mommy? I wouldn't WANT a better Mom than you."
"This is my one-and-a-half favorite chicken!"
"What's your number one favorite chicken?"
"Oh Christmas Tree,
Oh Christmas Tree,
I appreciate your branches...
Working on a new magic act:
"It won't be much of a show
if you peek!"
"We had to hound them down!
Taking big bites!"
"How long does it take to get to your bones?"
"...when you're eating yourself alive."
"I love you more than the rabbit loves his foot!"
Frances-isms Past: Part III
Pretending to be Christmas Fairies:
"I'm believe-in-ing Santa!
And you're believe-in-ing me!"
"Are you up over the highest mountain...
"What do you mean?"
"You know how people say they're 'up over the roof,' excited about something? I thought I'd make it even higher."
Conflict with a girl at school:
"She's a FLIPSIDE CRACKER!"
"You mean, she's pretzel on one side and cheddar on the other?"
"Yeah, one minute she's sensitive, the next minute she's all teen-ager-y...The good side is the pretzel side and the bad side is the...no wait a minute..."
Resting up for Turkey Day:
"I gotta sleep my eyeballs out!"
Mom: "How do you think Turkey-farm owners feel about Thanksgiving if they get attached to their turkeys as pets?"
F: "Maybe they only lightly toast them."
"My legs feel jitterable."
"Simon, it's cold---wear your black coat."
"No, its poofy."
"You'll get hypothermia. You can die from hypothermia."
"You can also die from bigblackcoatia."
"When I grow up, I wanna be a farm take-care-of-er. And an animal take-care-of-er."
On the offerings from the Police Department Field Trip:
"This is not a coloring book! Every page is just instruction-y things!"
On Dad's fire-maintenance abilities:
"He'd be good at that---don't you remember, he used to be a lighter boy." (altar boy)
Frances-isms Past: Part IV
Guest post: Grace, just before oral surgery:
"My mind feels like sheep fluff."
"My legs feel like cooked spaghetti."
"I feel like I'm flying...I'm a bird with human bones."
Regarding the cover of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush:
Mom: “It’s a fallen angel.”
F: "Why is it a man in pants?"
To her "cookie medicine"---liquid Allegra---while sneezing: "Even though you taste good, I DON'T forgive you!"
Guest post from the archives:
Grace, age 3, pointing at the big brick library: "I wanna go to that Book Church."
"I'm going to be a teacher when I grow up. And maybe a writer in case it doesn't work out."
"Look at Grace and me---we're the perfect setting."
Circles under the eggs in her drawing:
"Those are the boil bubbles."
The music teacher has so many recorders: "She has a whole colony of interest-mints!"
"Can you please be friends with Daisy Meadows and Erin Hunter so we can meet them and they can come over."
(Death to whoever tells my kids that Daisy Meadows is four people and Erin Hunter is three! They live in the U.K.---that's why we can't meet them.)
Looking at a watch on each wrist:
"I have two kinds of clocks. Digital and eggnog."
Frances-isms Past: Part V
"I'll finish this lickety-quip. Before you can say lippy-clippy-jippy-gibbety!"
"You smell like funny."
"Well, you've got gum."
"Gum is just a lotta chewy nothing."
"Do you think the Shadirondacks will like my hair this way?"
"Fun is my friend!"
Angel Food: "Chocolate cake and Peppermint Salad."
Flying dreams: "I think you soul goes out and comes back and builds a room inside your body to watch TV. Then it relaxes and eats some Coke."
Guest quote: G-Belle, age 9:
"The storm just keeps chattering on about death."
That doesn't sound like jelly---jelly's more blobbery!"
"This is the diseasiest summer!"
Frances-isms Past: Part VI
"I froak out!" (past tense of freak out)
Want some baby spinach?
"Nah, that's too dinnery."
"You guys have all the gadgets and gibbers!"
"Look out World, there's a new reader in town!"
Renames Baird: "Beauford."
"Whoa, what smells?" Sticks head in day-old Happy Meal bag. "It smells like rotting cheese."
"Mommy, would you warm me up like the ginger cookie?"
"Wait...I've got a chlorine burp."
"My boo-boos are like Armoured Hot Dog beans!"
"That guy shouldn't be No-Helmet riding! And with bald hair!"
"I have four possessions. Do you want to know what they are?
3. ice skating
4. roller skater
Those are my career, my four possessions."
Frances-isms Past: Part VII
To her sister: "Pay attention to the woman! It's her big day!"
Me: How does your stomach feel?
On why the neighbor boy is crying:
F: "He's just jealous of himself for no apparent reason."
(That can't be right---she must have heard wrong.)
Me: "(Neighbor boy), why are you crying?"
NB: "I'm just jealous of myself for no apparent reason."
On why pregnant women shouldn't drink alcohol:
"Because then the baby will be like, 'ewww! Wine is falling on me!'"
"I will invent the jetpack---THIS I SWEAR!!"
"Your hair looks like...yogurt."
"I'm gonna have a gold jetpack!"
"Cough out your mind."
Mother's Day Card:
"See the dog.
The dogs has moms.
The dogs jump."
Teacher Appreciation Card:
"See the cats.
The cats has moms.
The cats jump."
"It's my middle-name month!"
Frances-isms Past: Part VIII
"Maybe they should make Frances Nuggets and they'll be shaped like ME!"
First sentence written: "See the cat."
Second sentence written: "See the fat cat lemon."
"Dogs have clumsy hands." (on why we humans need to do stuff for them)
Mom: "How did you grow up to be such a sweet kid?"
F: "I was just born with flowers on my brain!"
"You said 'later,' and now is 'later.'"
"Someone's always changing my talking moment!"
"Reading" Kevin Henkes Old Bear:
"...Bears eat other bears, when they're mean to them...
He saw that his whole world was covered with fluffy snow. And he yelled...in delight. There was a soft comfy bed for him to sleep in...
He yawned...his fierce teeth scared the hunters away!"
"I'll still love you when I'm an old lady...I'm gonna love you even when I'm a skeleton!"
To mom, "You're my best friend...when nobody else is here."
"Why don't we order dinner from some Chinese people?"
"Pluto is such a lonely little planet."
Frances-isms Past: Part IX
"When I get near a shower, it gives me a great sing!"
"I pronounce Mommy the Queeeeen of Writing! And she's riding a unicorn across a rainbow!"
"I want God to say 'Yes' to me."
"Why do my socks smell like sombreros?"
Hall of Fame:
driving down the big hill with a sudden dip in the road:
"That makes my pee go silly!"
"Which color is the BARFest?"
Counting the days until her birthday: "The oneth, the twoth, the threeth, the fourth, the fiveth, and the sixth!"
"Did you know that Grace was going to be so pretty?"
"His mom had a grayish shirt and hazelnut hair."
"What? We like to play together, even though I hate Gracie."
While the doctor and I are talking talking talking in his office:
"Excuse me, um, I think there might be some other people out there waiting to see you."
"When the flowers have all gone away...the ant tells his weather cousin...to make it sunny again...so the tulips come back."
Not knowing where my childhood teddy bear is:
"I don't keep track of old people's stuff."
On winter trees: "They just sit there...balder and balder hair."
"Please stay out of my own talking!"
Frances-isms Past: Part X
"I'm bored of what I'm doing. I wanna be a servant."
"I got hit with a clumpy!"
"That little dot on your face when somebody sprays while they're talking to you."
"I wanna talk about robbers."
"I have a lot of thoughts about robbers."
"Robbers don't go out in the day time...because they wear all-black suits...and that's all they have."
"Daddy? Do you still have a wee bitty cold?"
Chasing her sister with a whole wheat fig bar: "Gracie, come an' get a prune-y!"
Delegating, with an air compressor and an inflatable sled in hand: "Mom, can I use your car?...I'm not gonna drive it!"
Trying to get her to sound out words:
"My voice is kinda itchy. You read it."
"Why's it so quiet? I'm sorry my pages are kinda loudy."
"Maybe BROCKOBAMA is eating lunch right now, too...
I ate the BROCKOBAMA cookie* and BROCKOBAMA's gonna be our new president soon."
*Before the election a bakery in Boston made ballot cookies with each candidate's photo. She really thinks selecting Obama's cookie and eating it was casting her vote.
Mom: I think I'll have a TaB.
Mom: What do you mean "no"?
FM: You need to take a break on that.
Mom: What are you my doctor? Who told you that?
FM: Barack Obama...Barack Obama said...
Frances-isms Past: Part XI
"How do you get these meatballs so crispy, and steamy, and brown?"
"I can't hear you...because I'm not listening."
Driving by a church at Christmas...
Dad: "Look, it's a reindeer made of lights."
FM: "Look, it's God...made of ROCK."
"This Egg-A-Nog is very milkish."
Mom: "You're so cute! Can I eat those cheeks?"
FM: "Sure, get a knife and fork and stab 'em!"
"Mom, you're the biggest heart in the row!"
"The only thing not good was I didn't get to plup the big balloon over the net. Everybody swaggled in the way and wouldn't let me get a turn."
"Bring that big old face over here on these lips."
"I'm glad you cut your hair---it was getting really crumpety."
"This apple juice is so good. It's really in my register."